Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory



The Applied Physics section comprises three groups that perform basic and applied research to support all three Laboratory Program Directorates and the science and security missions of external sponsors. Our scientists investigate the nature of Dark Energy and Dark Matter, explore the dynamics of ultra-fast photon-matter interactions and perform observations to better understand the composition and difstribution of planets and neutron stars. We have deep expertise in visible wavelength optics, X-ray optics, adaptive optics, X-ray photon/matter interactions, space science and astrophysics and large-scale physics-based modeling and simulation. We design, fabricate, characterize and use astrophysical instrumentation for basic science and national security; some of our recent projects include: the Gemini Planet Imager, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and NuSTAR satellites, the Large Synoptic Space Telescope and the NRO's CubeSat−Next Generation Bus program. Our scientists and engineers also create advanced X-ray instruments for the NIF, nuclear non-proliferation, U.S. industry and DOE X-ray light sources.

Associate Division Leader:   Stefan Hau-Riege

APS Administrator:   Elaine Johnson  +1 925-423-9019


Astrophysics & Advanced Diagnostics

Group Leader:  Greg Brown
The Astrophysics & Advanced Diagnostics group includes a diverse group of scientists studying a wide range of topics, including atomic physics, x-ray astrophysics, solar and planetary physics, and nuclear physics. We design and implement a wide range of diagnostic instrumentation. We operate the original electron beam ion trap—EBIT-I—where we use an extensive suite of grating, crystal, and solid state spectrometers, including a multichannel, high-resolution quantum calorimeter spectrometer, designed and built at the NASA Goddard Space Center, to conduct high accuracy measurements of fundamental properties of highly charged ions relevant to astrophysics, solar physics, and fusion science. Our vibrant laboratory astrophysics program supports both astrophysics and solar physics missions including Chandra, XMM-Newton, Suzaku, Hitomi, the X-ray Astrophysics Recovery Mission (XARM), ATHENA, Hinode, and the Solar Dynamics Observatory. In addition, EBIT-I is used to performance test and calibrate high-resolution grating and crystal spectrometers designed by members of our group. These instruments are used to study and diagnose fusion and laser produced plasmas at several international facilities, including the National Spherical Torus Experiment Upgrade (NSTX-U), Alcator C-Mod, DIII-D, and Atomic Weapons Establishment’s Orion laser. Our members participate and play leading roles in experiments at all of these facilities. We have a history of participating in science working groups and instrument teams for orbiting x-ray satellites, and we are currently co-investigators and science team members for the XARM, which is scheduled to be launched in 2022. Our members also lead and participate in the design, calibration, and characterization of diagnostics for the National Ignition Facility’s (NIF’s) targets and laser optics, and we are involved in NIF’s standard nuclear diagnostics suite. We also lead experiments at Sandia National Laboratory’s Z-Machine.

Optical Sciences

Group Leader:  Alex Pertica
Optical Sciences Group (OSG) activities span from astrophysical science research to focused national security programs in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), space situational awareness (SSA) and space protection. The OSG supports programmatic efforts in Z-Program in Global Security, WCI, and NIF, and executes science-based R&D within PLS. Recent OSG projects include the development of X-ray Adaptive Optics systems, the Gemini Planet Imager instrument for the Gemini South Telescope, and optical payloads for nano-satellites. OSG members have also explored the use of survey telescopes for dark matter research, developed algorithms and software tools for simulation of orbital space events, and implemented sensor calibration and exploitation strategies for hyperspectral airborne sensors.

X-Ray Science

Group Leader:  Marie-Anne Descalle
The X-ray Science and Technology group develops advanced x-ray optics solutions and explores photon-matter interaction processes for basic science investigations and programmatic missions. We are pushing the limits of x-ray optics by utilizing our unique cross-disciplinary expertise in optics design, optimization, and fabrication. For example, we build wave-front-preserving static and actuated beamline optics to transport and focus intense beams fabricated utilizing leading-edge thin-film coatings and multilayers. Further, we develop, field, and interpret novel diagnostics based on reflective x-ray optics for ICF and Stockpile Stewardship, and we explore novel uses of multilayer optics for gamma-ray spectroscopy or thermal-neutron imaging for Nuclear Security applications. Also, we participate in the development of Next generation x-ray telescopes for Astrophysics and Solar Astronomy. Finally, we perform high-intensity x-ray—plasma interaction studies for code validation for Weapons and Complex Integration.